ADHD Priorities. Your Guide to What’s Important

by | May 9, 2019 | ADHD Success Skills and Tools | 2 comments

Does your life ever have common themes? Mine sure does. This week’s theme is how to decide your priorities if you have ADHD. At least three ADHD coaching clients have asked how to prioritize already this week, and the week is still young.

Knowing your priorities when you have ADHD is tricky. Since we’re drawn to what’s shiny, we’re prone to losing track of what’s important.

Yes, looming deadlines become top priorities. ADHD adults can focus like champs when their hair is on fire.

But, to enjoy an easier ADHD life you need to learn how to do the important stuff BEFORE a fire starts.

Leaping from fire to fire is a painful way to live.

Other than a looming deadline how do you decide what’s important? When you have ADHD it’s hard to know exactly what you need to focus on.

Prioritizing Is Easier with a Guide

How do I guide my clients to set priorities? By creating an ADHD Priorities Guide. Without a priorities guide you’ll spend your life focused on the urgent; not the important. It’s inevitable.

An ADHD Priorities Guide is NOT a list of the most important projects you should be working on now. That’s a job for your task list.

(No clue on how to have a task list that works? You’ll learn everything you need to know about task lists in the ADHD Success Club.)

A priorities guide is like an ER triage system. You know, how emergency rooms decide who gets medical attention first?

That’s what your priorities guide does. You decide ahead of time what’s most important. So, when life is flying at you fast, you know what to focus on first.

Yes, setting your ADHD priorities takes a touch of upfront work. And, yes, you have to remember your priorities. But, making ADHD easier means you do a bit of upfront work and learn how to remember stuff.

You can do this. I have. Many of the ADHD adults I work with have. It’s a different, less stressful approach to life.

A Sample ADHD Priorities Guide

Next week I’ll share my priorities guide on the blog and tell you how I use them. For today, here’s a sample one of my clients, Jim, came up with.

Here’s some background, Jim is self-employed. He’s a partner in a busy, growing business.

Jim’s ADHD Priorities Guide

  • Eating a healthy Diet
  • Customer Care (caring for current customers)
  • Sales (bringing in new customers)
  • Essential Administrative Tasks (notice the word essential)
  • Creating New Products
  • Everything else

Interesting how Jim has eating for his ADHD first on the list, isn’t it. He’s learned through our work together that when he doesn’t eat right he can’t focus well enough to do his work.

How does Jim’s ADHD Priorities Guide help him day to day? Say, he’s working on a sales project when a client calls with a problem. Jim knows to set the sales project aside for a bit to handle his customer’s need. (Notice, set the sales project aside for a bit. Not toss it away and ignore it forever.)

Jim is solving the customer’s problem and he realizes it’s lunch time. Since he knows eating healthy is a high priority so he can do his best work, Jim takes a quick lunch break. (He doesn’t get a packet of cookies from the snack machine pretending he’ll eat healthy later.)

Getting clear on what’s most important to you is eye-opening. You’ll discover the disconnect between how you use your time and what’s important to you.

Do you find yourself bouncing from task to task without doing what’s most important? Make your own ADHD Priority Guides for home and work. Use them to triage incoming tasks.

The bottom line? If you have ADHD knowing your priorities is important. A touch of upfront planning builds and easier ADHD life. A life where you stay better focused on the essential tasks that will help you reach your goals.



  1. Dianne

    Im looking for online support for just ADD. I wish I could be hyperactive but never have been. Somehow I have had successes in life but recently have begin to see my lifetime of UNDER achievement when I used to think I was an over achiever! Now I am-an old lady but still healthy. Time is running out. I am trying to set priorities. Should I give up on being the writer I always thought I should be and just enjoy life? I do not have a website and cant list a URL

    • Dana Rayburn

      Hi Dianne, first, when I talk about ADHD I include ADD – Inattentive type. The name was changed from ADD to ADHD a number of years ago. I can’t answer your question for you. However, I can throw in my two cents. You used the word should. I find shoulds often come from a place of shame or the expectations of others. What’s right for you? What do you gain by being a writer? What do you gain by enjoying life? What’s blocking you from getting started? Hope this helps a bit! Warmly, Dana


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